Meet Maria

Transition Stroud Newsletter Editor Josephine Murray (JM) talks to Maria Ardley (MA), newly appointed Stroud co-ordinator of the Big Solar Co-op, a national organisation set up to provide subsidy-free community solar energy..

See below for three things you can do today!

JM: What prompted you to join Big Solar Co-Op? (BSC)

MA: I really wanted to do a paid job related to helping to solve the climate crisis, and joining BSC seemed like a great way to do that. Installing solar panels onto rooftops of buildings which are a source of often huge emissions, will hopefully not only help the climate but also, ultimately, help with air quality nationally, as a result of lower
use of fossil fuels. It’s a really focused, practical solution to what can often seem like an overwhelming issue. The great thing about this particular project is that it’s rooted in co-operative values, mostly run by volunteers and ethical in its sourcing and manufacturing of solar panels.

JM: What have you done previously for work, and voluntarily, and how does this feed into your role at BSC?

MA: I was living in the Basque Country and teaching English until last summer, and also doing lots of social media with various organisations. I think both these jobs will really help me when it comes to networking, organising events and generally getting the word out there about what we’re doing and how to get involved. We’re going to need a big team of volunteers, so watch this space!

JM: Can you tell us a bit about your role and what you do at BSC?

MA: This is a completely new role at BSC, so I’m excited to see exactly where it’s going to take me, but basically I will be working with a big group of volunteers and a local advisory board, which includes Transition Stroud, to find suitable rooftops for our panels and to then see the process through from start to finish.

JM: Can you tell us a bit about BSC? What are its aims, and plans for the future?

MA: We want to embed solar within communities, primarily on rooftops, rather than solar fields, on buildings that need reasonably-priced, sustainable electricity. By 2030 our aim is to install 100MW of rooftop solar nationally, and in Stroud we’re aiming to have 400kW in progress by 2023 (i.e. in one year’s time)!

JM: What other things do you do that are related to sustainability?

MA: I’ve recently been elected onto Rodborough Parish Council and am hoping to work on making cycling more accessible to a wider number of people within the local community. You may have seen me out and about on our blue cargo bike, with my son riding majestically in the front. I also volunteer with Stroud Green Party, doing social media and occasionally delivering leaflets or helping out at events.

JM: Whereabouts do you live, and what do you like about that area?

MA: I live in Rodborough with my family (husband, 4 year old son, and dog). We haven’t lived here for long- just under a year- but I love it so far. It’s very community-minded and there’s a lot going on, thanks to lots of wonderful volunteers. I particularly enjoy the Friday social up at the community centre, followed by a dog walk on the common. The Coffee Lada does an excellent job of bringing coffee to Rodborough on a Friday morning- thank you!

JB: When I’m not busy working in Loose or making plans for Loose I like to walk, sew and craft generally, I do pottery classes weekly with my daughter, I also have a regular breathwork practice, meditate, visit the gym and do cold water immersion with a group of brave Stroudies who regularly dip in the river Frome. 

Three Things You Can Do Today

1. Tell everyone about us the BSC initiative in Stroud

2. Follow BSC on Facebook and Twitter and keep an eye out for local events

3. Volunteer with us. You can find more info here if you’re interested:

Find out about more local Stroud Transitioneers

If you would like to share your sustainable living story, please contact Josephine on